If the Mary Wright Admission Center was to be given a letter grade on its appearance and benefits for students, staff and visitors, Chancellor Victor Boschini said he would give it an A-plus.
“We looked at a lot of other admissions [buildings]. Vanderbilt has one, SMU has one, so we tried to incorporate the best ideas of those,” Boschini said.
He said the new building, which opened to staff Aug. 2, is home to the offices of all admission faculty and staff, marking the first time the entire staff has been together on campus.
“I think that by having everyone…in one office versus in three separate offices on three separate floors, it will just help to make the entire process more seamless for both the applicants and the staff,” Boschini wrote in an e-mail.
Although the construction of the new building resulted in the loss of a commuter and faculty parking lot, the university added more available parking alongside Bellaire Drive by tearing down condominiums near Worth Hills and building a new lot, Boschini said. The new lot is larger than the space lost to the admission building, but is located further from campus.
Wes Waggoner, director of freshman admission, said the building, which holds the record of being the fastest building built on campus, was on the wish list of admission faculty for about two years because of an increase in applicants to the university.
He said being able to design a building according to the needs of the admissions staff was better than knowing that a document in Sadler would go to two floors and three different offices before it got where it needed to go.
The facility was in talks for the past two years between administrators and started to take shape when donors Mary and Robert J. Wright made a private donation that enabled the building’s construction, Waggoner said.
He said the admission center would officially open to the general public for tours on Monday and had 300 special tours scheduled throughout the year.
Waggoner said, “We want people to walk into the building and go “Wow’ and get this immediate comfort level. The building is a part of the message.”
In addition to the opening of the admission building, a renovated Milton Daniel dormitory opened to freshmen and upperclassmen in the John V. Roach Honors College on Aug. 11.
Ron Pitcock, J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Honors Fellow, said Milton Daniel was an amazing facility that provided a number of unique spaces for students to interact with each other. He said it had the potential of fostering a unique social environment and academic success.
Craig Allen, director of Housing and Residence Life, said the building was entirely gutted and rebuilt.
He said the dorm’s signature feature was the great hall, a first floor lounge that could hold programming events and other honors college activities.
“When we did Clark Hall it turned out really well, then we had to do Sherley, which has some great features, so when we got to this project we thought, “What’s going to be the unique feature here?'” Allen said. “Clearly here in this building, the great hall and the third floor are the unique features.”
Allen said the building featured a shaded amphitheater for social gatherings and lectures, a theater area with a drop-down screen projection system available and a third floor with a fireplace lounge and study pods.
Mary Wright Admission Center
- All admission staff are in the same building on campus for the first time
- Fastest building ever built on campus
- Opened to the public Monday and will hold 300 special tours during the year
- Includes memorabilia displays, an interactive kiosk and a hospitality area with a coffee maker and refreshments
- New parking lot on Bellaire Drive North
- Built to replace space lost due to admission center construction
- Worth Hills condominiums torn down on Bellaire Drive North
- New lot is larger than space lost, but farther away from campus
- Milton Daniel Hall
- Gutted and renovated during the 2009-2010 school year
- Houses first year and upper class students in the John V. Roach Honors College
- Features a great hall on the first floor with a vaulted ceiling
- Ground level includes a shaded amphitheater and an indoor theater area with a drop-down projection screen
- Third floor includes a fireplace in the lounge and study pods